Living donor: Calera man promises to save a life

Published 12:26 pm Tuesday, October 27, 2015

After making a promise to his best friend, James Leachman is determined to save a life as a living donor and will not stop until his promise is fulfilled. (Contributed)

After making a promise to his best friend, James Leachman is determined to save a life as a living donor and will not stop until his promise is fulfilled. (Contributed)

By JESSA PEASE / Staff Writer

CALERA— A promise James Leachman made to his best friend, Danny Prince, changed Leachman’s life in a way he never expected. Prince was 42 years old and had a 2-year-old daughter when he was diagnosed with throat cancer.

It was a rough battle for Prince, and one night when he and Leachman were sitting together, Leachman took his hand.

“I can’t save you Danny,” Leachman said to Prince. “I can’t save your life, but I am going to try to save somebody’s life in your honor in your name. Just for you.”

A few months later, Prince was gone, but Leachman still holds on to that promise.

It wasn’t long after Prince’s death when Leachman Googled transplants and came across a site called He signed up, and within the first couple months he said he was overwhelmed with the amount of people who contacted him.

“What you do is you develop a relationship with these people through this site,” Leachman said. “They just want to know that somebody cares about them, that somebody is looking into their story. The first time I got on there, I read for five hours. I couldn’t stop reading the stories.”

Soon after, he was matched with a man in New York City. After flying to the Big Apple, Leachman found out he was unable to donate because of a technicality.

Although he said he felt like he let this man down, Leachman continued trying to find a match. Then he met 33-year-old Stacie from Philadelphia.

At the same time, Leachman was witnessing to a couple that reached out to him after he had already committed to helping Stacie. He couldn’t be a donor for them, but he could be a support system while they searched for a match.

After six months of testing, Leachman and his wife flew to Philly where he received some bad news about his final test. Leachman’s heart was bad and he couldn’t donate.

“I was so heartbroken,” he said. “Not for me at all, only for Stacie. She’s gone through so much.”

As fate would have it, Stacie got a kidney after all. Stacie’s father died two days after Jim found out he couldn’t help her. Her father saved many lives as a donor, including his daughter’s.

After seeing multiple cardiologists, Leachman was told he could donate again. Now he has plans to help the couple he’s been witnessing to for three months.

“I’ve been telling them for three months, somebody is going to help them. I know the Lord has a plan for you,” Leachman said. “The crazy thing about it is, I am the one that I’ve been telling them is going to come help them.”

They are currently in an evaluation period and the Leachmans are travelling to Seattle Nov. 7 with hopes that everything will fall into place. If things don’t work out this time, Leachman said he won’t stop until he finds his match.

“I made the promise to Danny and until the door is absolutely shut, I am going to continue to do that,” he said. “It’s all just for the love that I have for him.”